You may or may not have heard of the term ‘Gacha’. It’s a mechanic employed by some of the most popular mobile games right now. Gacha is a system used to give users random rewards inspired by the “Gashapon” toy vending machine popular in Japan.
This highly rewarding mechanic has helped create both controversy and cultish passion for the games not unlike playing and winning with slots from top online casinos. These sites also offer free rewards for its players including deposit bonuses for betting.
Gacha may seem like a niche interest for now, but it is widely spreading in popularity with hundreds of millions of users playing daily. This may become the new hot trend for app and game developers and we’ll explore if this may or may not work.
“Gachapon” by TIM HORNYAK is licensed under CC BY 3.0
The Origins of Gacha
Gashapon was first invented in 1965 when Ryuzo Shigeta, the “Gacha-gacha Ojisan” (grandfather of Gachapon) introduced the first machine in Tokyo. The term “gacha” refers to the familiar cranking sound when using the machine to receive a toy or some type of reward.
This started by offering little toys that cost no more than Y10 a piece until an explosion nearly 50 years later thanks to a cutesy office lady (OL) character called “Koppu no Fuchiko” or “Life on Edge with Fuchiko”.
Her immense popularity is what procured companies and game makers to start targeting gacha towards adults and not just children. Since then, game makers took note and started incorporating gacha towards games.
In fact, most of the top-selling mobile games in Japan have some form of Gacha mechanic in it.
With the rise of Genshin Impact, a popular game that was just nominated for several awards, gacha gaming continues to break new ground.
Why Gacha Works
Very few things in this world can beat that feeling of discovering or acquiring some treasure without having to work for it. That is the ultimate lure of the gacha and why its users keep coming back for more.
A luck-based system can be just as rewarding as it is frustrating. Oftentimes you’ll see social media littered with memes from players who failed to draw the character or item despite hefty amounts of rolls or on the flipside, some who get a rare character with just one or two lucky pulls.
It’s almost like gambling except it can be free. Genshin Impact is free-to-play. Players can download the game from the PlayStation store or their phone and not pay a single cent.
Being free is what leads to users downloading an app or game. But the gacha system of rewarding players, usually through events, is what keeps them coming back for more.
These events will reward players with free rolls or better rates for acquiring rewards at a limited time. Think of it as a limited time sale from your favorite retail shops. It’s the same concept.
If developers can incorporate this continual reward system to new apps or games, the users should keep coming back.
“Gachapon” by Pumidol is licensed under CC BY 3.0
Why Gacha Could Fail
Gacha is ultimately a luck-based system not unlike playing in the casino. It’s also where the controversy lies as naysayers liken the gacha mechanic to a gambling mechanic.
Users could end with bad luck and feel cheated at not being rewarded while others are reaping all of it. But while frustration does not always lead to quitting, boredom can.
While a gacha mechanic can add spice and incentive for players or users to return, it is simply just a portion. If the gameplay is no good, no amount of great rewards from the gacha will compensate.
Likewise, an app or a software could have numerous flaws and simply throwing “free stuff!” at players won’t motivate them to keep using.
Gacha is a fun and potentially rewarding system to implement. But at best, it’s a nice feature that can boost the longevity of a game or an app but not improve its quality.
The system won’t fix a game or app’s shortcomings in its main gameplay or interface or its usability. Likewise, it does not inherently change the system. It won’t entirely save players or users from getting bored or just losing interest in something.
But gacha, despite being around for 50+ years is just getting started. The mechanic is continually being used in new ways and different types of gacha are being implemented with new games.
It may not be a revolutionary tool to change the way apps are being used, but it’s a nifty feature that can keep users engaged and coming back for more.